Last I had a very enjoyable evening courtesy of my pal Leo, who is one the councillors for Preston ward in Brighton. The food was superb, the chit chat as informative as it was amusing and I even ate one of the vegetarian sausages he’d made for me. Just to be polite. Later on just how polite I’d been was revealed to the other guests when they discovered these sausages to be impervious to teeth and fork alike. Being unable to cook a vegetarian sausage is not the stereotypical image people have of a Green Party councillor, especially not one with such a culinary reputation as Leo. Nevertheless, it was a great evening and I really appreciated the chance to catch up again with Graham (who babysat me when I was very young in Brighton) and meet his wife, Paula, with whom I had a very informative conversation about bonfire. She is the membership secretary of Cliffe Bonfire Society.
Later on my wife arrived. She’d been out with another friend. I imagined that there’d been some kind of dinner party at this friend’s house. Turned out they were out on the town! Except, not as I initially imagined it. They attended an event so bizarre that I wanted to record the facts as I understand them. Their evening had been organised by a fellow – let’s call him Nick – who wished to celebrate to life of his friend, who had passed away. That’s perfectly normal, although it is a little slack to wait two years after the man’s death. It gets odder when Nick invites only people who didn’t know the deceased. All forms of normal social etiquette take their leave completely when Nick starts sharing pornography from the year the deceased had been born in. My wife said the Playboy she was shown featured a cover girl who looked like she could be your
Mother, no nipple shots and adverts for stay-press trousers. Certainly, I’ve never wished I’d been alive in 1965.
Brighton is famous for its relaxed night time economy, liberal social attitudes and progressive politics. Not for us, the routine, the hum drum or the boring. However, this can mean we attract people who go too far.
Many years ago a friend of mine – let’s call her Ruby – had the most bizarre social networking experience of all time. She’d just got a new job and was pleased to be invited to a dinner party by one of her colleagues. Turned out everyone in the office was going. They were mostly couples and everyone seemed very nice. On the Saturday night Ruby went along to the host’s address with the expectation of a chance to meet the others socially. At some point early in the evening she excused herself to go to the toilet. Being a little nosey, she put her head around the door of a couple of the bedrooms. Everything was pretty much as you might expect though she did notice the beds were stripped and covered with what looked like an incontinence sheet. To return to the dining room, she had to pass through the living room, where she noticed the sofas were still covered in the plastic they had obviously been delivered in. Ruby returned to the table and the excellent food, which was very rich and voluminous.
After the meal, the hostess passed around a bowl with some very large sugar cubes on it. Each guest made a real show out of eating their cube. Ruby just assumed that it contained LSD. As you do. Despite a couple of misgivings about taking this powerful hallucinogenic with people she barely knew and having eaten such a large meal, she ate hers. The host leant across the table, touched her on the arm and expressed her personal pleasure that she “had joined them” that evening.
The laughter and chatting continued. Some people retired from the table, music flooded the house. Ruby waited for the drug to take effect. About 30 minutes needed the toilet again, which was upstairs. This time she noticed the stairs were also covered with protective plastic. At the top of the stairs she could hear a couple having sex in one of the bedrooms. Ruby prepared to tip toe past the door, which seemed to open. She reached the toilet but found the door locked. Unfortunately she was teetering and somewhat desperate so she called out to the occupant. No answer. Realising a house that large might well have another toilet, she turned around to find it. The bedroom door was wide open now. As Ruby walked past, a voice called out, “come and join us”. On the bed there was a couple covered in excrement. Whether they were having sex or just rolling around in it wasn’t immediately discernible. That’s when the truth dawned on Ruby – she had been invited to a shit party!
By the way, Ruby’s host apologised for the misunderstanding, called her a taxi and it was somewhat awkward in the office on Monday morning. She quit that post soon after.
Given the choice, I’d rather have the antique porn and unknown dead person’s party to that particular subculture. Frankly, I much prefer the hardened sausages and locals chit chat as served up by Leo.
The point being that whilst I enjoy the friendship of people from Brighton and Hove, the reason it is such a popular place is precisely because we locals have welcomed all sorts to our City. Even the people whose idea of a great night out can only be fueled by a very powerful laxative, so long as they also welcome others to our seaside sanctuary. The reason why so many locals stay and so many outsiders come to live in Brighton and Hove is due to that pervasive social attitude. We welcome one and all, regardless of their personal proclivities, so long as they contribute to our community.